Posture is an important piece of the health and fitness puzzle. Good posture takes pressure off your spinal cord, elevates your chest and ribs for better breathing and improves your appearance of confidence. Next time you’re giving a presentation for work, asking for a raise, wanting to look attractive or being stern with your kids, stand up taller and watch how it improves your attitude and their response to you.
Keeping muscles strong and balanced makes it easier to hold your body in a good position when static or moving, but it doesn’t stop there. The main reason people don’t have better posture is because of body awareness. Having mindfulness and awareness about your body position is the best way to ensure good posture.
Good posture is different for each person, depending on their structure. What’s “good” for your body is where it feels the most comfortable, with no stress or strain being placed anywhere. Imagine weightlessness. The best way to identify what position is best for you is to close your eyes, tune into your body and gently move your joints to the most effortless position you can find. This position can change during the day.
Body awareness takes time to develop and comes with practice. Get started by using these cues to keep your body aligned throughout the day. Hang a note in your car or by your desk as a reminder. Before you know it, these will be regular habits you have!
Posture Cue #1 Touch the back of your head to the car head rest and your sacrum (tail bone area) to the lower part of the seat. Keeping the top and bottom of your spine in contact with the car seat helps you avoid hunching forward.
Posture Cue #2 When seated at a desk, keep your upper back touching the top of the chair. Keeping your upper back in contact with the chair helps your neck stay aligned over your shoulders. This prevents pinching of the delicate spinal nerves.
Posture Cue #3 Gravity naturally pulls our body down toward the ground. Imagine a string pulling the top of your head up to the ceiling. You can also visualize a tennis ball hanging above your head and touching it with the top of your head. Think of a pile of dominoes. When they’re aligned, they stay piled up. If one is out of place, they are more likely to fall over. This cue achieves that same result.
Posture Cue #4 Imagine your pelvis as a bucket. Your hip bones form the sides of the bucket. Place your hands along the ridge of your hip bones to feel this. Tip the bucket forward and back to feel how it moves. Close your eyes and feel what happens in each vertebrae as you slowly tilt forward and back. Focus on keeping your bucket neutral. How does this feel in your spine? When the bucket is tilted too far forward or back, the rest of your vertebrae have to react. This creates a good base of support for the spine.
Remember: If it’s painful to do anything suggested in this article, don’t! Good posture is feels good. You shouldn’t feel any pinching or pain sensations in your body when it’s aligned. If you’ve been chronically slouching, better posture might feel awkward at first and you may tire easily. It’ll get easier with time and practice. Pay attention to your body, stand up taller and take some deep breaths! You’ll feel better in no time!